- V -
(N/A) American Commedian
- Cats are smarter than dogs. You can not get eight cats to pull a sled through snow.
Paul Valéry (Ambroise-Paul-Toussaint-Jules Valéry)
(1871 - 1945) French Poet, essayist and philosopher
- Long years must pass before the truths we have made for ourselves become our very flesh.
- God created man and, not finding him sufficiently alone, gave him a companion to make him feel his solitude more keenly. [ from Tel Quel, 1943]
- A businessman is a hybrid of a dancer and a calculator.
- Science means simply the aggregate of all the recipes that are always successful. The rest is literature. [from Moralités, 1932]
- A poem is never finished; it's always an accident that puts a stop to it-that is to say, gives it to the public.
- La politique est l'art d'empêcher les gens de se mêler de ce qui les regarde.
[Politics is the art of preventing people from sticking their noses in things that are properly their business., [ from Tel Quel, 1943]
- God made everything out of nothing.
But the nothingness shows through.
- Politeness is organized indifference.
- Having verse set to music is like looking at a painting through a stained-glass window.
(N/A) Fictional Detective inventd by S. S. Van Dine[Willard Huntington Wright] in the 1930's
- The democratic theory is that if you accumulate enough ignorance at the polls, you produce intelligence.
Amy Vanderbilt (Amy Vanderbilt Knopf)
(1908 - 1974) American expert on "Etiquette"
- Everyone knows that a man can always marry even if he reaches 102, is penniless, and has all his faculties gone. There is always some woman willing to take a chance on him. [from The Complete Book of Etiquette, 1952]
- Good manners have much to do with the emotions. To make them ring true, one must feel them, not merely exhibit them. [from The Complete Book of Etiquette, 1952]
- Only a great fool or a great genius is likely to flout all social grace with impunity, and neither one, doing so, makes the most comfortable companion. [from The Complete Book of Etiquette, 1952]
- Good manners have much to do with the emotions. To make them ring true, one must feel them, not merely exhibit them. [from The New Complete Book of Etiquette, 1963]
- Breakfast is the one meal at which it is permissible to read the paper. [from The New Complete Book of Etiquette, 1963]
Mies van der Rohe (Maria Ludwig Michael Mies. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe)
(1886 - 1969) German-born American Architect, known for his 'Modern' glass-and-steel skyscrapers
- God is in the details. 
- Architecture begins when you place two bricks carefully together.
Henry Van Dyke
(1852 - 1933) American Poet and Presbyterian Minister
Poems by Henry Van Dyke
- Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars.
- Some people are so afraid to die that they never begin to live.
- The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month. [from Fisherman's Luck]
Vincent Van Gogh
(1853 - 1890) Influential Dutch Post-Impressionist Painter; also known for the high prices his paintings now command
- It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to. The feeling for the things themselves, for reality, is more important than the feeling for pictures.
- Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter's soul.
- What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?
- A good picture is equivalent to a good deed.
- One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul and yet no one ever come to sit by it. Passersby see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on the way.
- If one is master of one thing and understands one thing well, one has at the same time, insight into and understanding of many things.
John Varley (John Herbert Varley)
(1947 - ) American Science Fiction Author; winner of the Hugo, Nebula and other awards
- Never trust anybody who says "trust me." Except just this once, of course. - from Steel Beach
Bill Vaughan (William E. Vaughan)
(1915 - 1977) American Columnist and Author
- Suburbia is where the developer buldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.
- We hope that, when the insects take over the world, they will remember with gratitude how we took them along on all of our picnics.
- Economists report that a college education adds many thousands of dollars to a man's lifetime income - which he then spends sending his son to college.
- Money won't buy happiness, but it will pay the salaries of a large research staff to study the problem.
- The less important you are on the corporate org. chart, the more you'll be missed if you don't show up for work. 
- Size isn't everything. The whale is endangered, while the ant continues to do just fine.
- A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won't cross the street to vote in a national election.
- If there is anything the nonconformist hates worse than a conformist, it's another nonconformist who doesn't conform to the prevailing standard of nonconformity.
- It might be a good idea if the various countries of the world would occasionally swap history books, just to see what other people are doing with the same set of facts.
- An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.
- As a nation we're dedicated to staying physically fit -- and parking as close to the stadium as possible.
(1914 - 1990) Influential American Jazz Vocalist
- Its singing with soul that counts [interview, 1957]
- Chior singing is wonderful for what ails you. [interview, 1946]
- I'd like to go broke again, and this time I'd like to spend all the money myself.
- I'm the same way now that I was when I was eighteen. I don't go in for all that star stuff. All the stars are in heaven. [interview, 1982]
Thorstein Veblen (Tosten Bunde Veblen )
(1857 - 1929) American Economist and Sociologist
- Conspicuous leisure and consumption - In one case is a waste of time and effort. In the other it is a waste of goods. [from Theory of the Leisure Class, 1899]
- The prime purpose of eloquence is to keep other people from speaking.
Jules Verne (Jules Gabriel Verne)
(1828 - 1905) Influential and Visionary French Author; credited as one of the inventors of 'Science Fiction'
- Whatever one man is capable of conceiving, other men will be able to achieve.
- Superior force can demolish the best of arguments. [from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , 1870]
- Man's constitution is so peculiar that his health is purely a negative matter. No sooner is the rage of hunger appeased than it becomes difficult to comprehend the meaning of starvation. It is only when you suffer that you really understand. [from Journey to the Center of the Earth, 1864]
- The sea is everything. It covers seven tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides. The sea is only the embodiment of a supernatural and wonderful existence. It is nothing but love and emotion. [from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , 1870]
- In the memory of the dead all chronological differences are effaced. [from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , 1870]
- Now when an American has an idea, he directly seeks a second American to share it. If there be three, they elect a president and two secretaries. Given four, they name a keeper of records, and the office is ready for work; five, they convene a general meeting, and the club is fully constituted. [from From the Earth to the Moon, 1865]
- It is a great misfortune to be alone, my friends; and it must be believed that solitude can quickly destroy reason. [from The Mysterious Island, 1875]
- Civilization never recedes; the law of necessity ever forces it onwards. [from The Mysterious Island, 1875]
- An energetic man will succeed where an indolent one would vegetate and inevitably perish. [from The Mysterious Island, 1875]
- Before all masters, necessity is the one most listened to, and who teaches the best. [from The Mysterious Island, 1875]
- Poets are like proverbs - you can always find one to contradict another. 
(9 AD - 79 AD) Roman Emperor
- Pecunia non olet.
[Money has no smell.]
(N/A) American Business Writer
- Nothing average ever stood as a monument to progress. When progress is for a partner it doesn’t turn to those who believe that they are only average. It turns instead to those who are forever searching and striving to become the best they possibly can. If we seek the average level, we cannot hope to achieve a higher level of success. Our only hope is to avoid being a failure.
- Four short words sum up what has lifted most successful individuals above the crowd - a little bit more. They did all that was expected of them, and a little bit more.
Queen Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria)
(1819 - 1901) British Queen, longest reigning English monarch
- We are not amused. 
- We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat. They do not exist. 
- Since it has pleased Providence to place me in this station, I shall do my utmost to fulfill my duty towards my country; I am very young, and perhaps in many, though not in all things, inexperienced, but I am sure, that very few have more real good will and more real desire to do what is fit and right than I have. [diary, 1837]
Gore Vidal (Eugene Luther Gore Vidal)
(1925 - ) American Author, Essayist
- I am at heart a propagandist, a tremendous hater, a tiresome nag, complacently positive that there is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise. 
- At any given moment, public opinion is a chaos of superstition, misinformation, and prejudice. 
- The unfed mind devours itself. 
- It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail. 
- A memoir is how one remembers one's own life, while an autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts, double-checked. [from Palimpest, 1995]
- Teaching has ruined more American novelists than drink.
- Baseball is America's favorite sport because it's so slow. Any idiot can follow it, and just about any idiot can play it.
- The more money an American accumulates the less interesting he himself becomes. 
- In any case, rather like priests who have forgotten the meaning of the prayers they chant, we shall go on for quite a long time talking of books and writing books, pretending all the while not to notice that the church is empty and the parishioners have gone elsewhere to attend other gods, perhaps in silence or with new words. [from Matters of Fact and Fiction, 1978]
- The period of Prohibition — called the noble experiment — brought on the greatest breakdown of law and order the United States has known until today. I think there is a lesson here. Do not regulate the private morals of people. Do not tell them what they can take or not take. Because if you do, they will become angry and antisocial and they will get what they want from criminals who are able to work in perfect freedom because they have paid off the police. [from Matters of Fact and Fiction, 1978]
- The United States was founded by the brightest people in the country — and we haven't seen them since. [from The State of the Union, 1975]
- Television is a great leveler. You always end up sounding like the people who ask the questions. [from The Second American Revolution, 1983]
- The average "educated" American has been made to believe that, somehow, the United States must lead the world even though hardly anyone has any information at all about those countries we are meant to lead. Worse, we have very little information about our own country and its past. 
- Class is the most difficult subject for American writers to deal with as it is the most difficult for the English to avoid. 
- Half the American people never read a newspaper. Half never vote for President — the same half? [from Screening History, 1992]
- As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: you liberate a city by destroying it. Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests. 
- Never pass up a chance to have sex or appear on television. 
- Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so.
Alfred de Vigny (Alfred Victor Vigny)
(1797 - 1863) French author, translator
- Silence alone is great. All else is feebleness.
- Above all, we must abolish hope in the heart of man. A calm despair, without angry convulsions, without reproaches to Heaven, is the essence of wisdom.
- Greatness is the dream of youth realized in old age.
- The true God, the mighty God, is the God of ideas.
- Perform your long and heavy task with energy, treading the path to which Fate has been pleased to call you.
- Fainthearted animals move about in herds. The lion walks alone in the desert. Let the poet always walk thus.
Leonardo da Vinci (Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci)
(1452 - 1519) Archetypal Italian Inventor; scientist, mathematician, engineer, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician, poet, writer, etc.
- As every divided kingdom falls, so every mind divided between many studies confounds and saps itself.
- Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature, because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous.
- It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.
- As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death.
- Life well spent is long.
- Poor is the pupil that does not surpass his master.
- Shun those studies in which the work that results dies with the worker.
- Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.
- Those who are in love with practice without knowledge are like the sailor who gets into a ship without rudder or compass and who never can be certain whether he is going. Practice must always be founded on sound theory, and to this Perspective is the guide and the gateway; and without this nothing can be done well in the matter of drawing.
- The painter who draws merely by practice and by eye, without any reason, is like a mirror which copies every thing placed in front of it without being conscious of their existence.
- Shadow is not the absence of light, merely the obstruction of the luminous rays by an opaque body. Shadow is of the nature of darkness. Light is of the nature of a luminous body; one conceals and the other reveals. They are always associated and inseparable from all objects. But shadow is a more powerful agent than light, for it can impede and entirely deprive bodies of their light, while light can never entirely expel shadow from a body, that is from an opaque body.
- Shadow is the diminution alike of light and of darkness, and stands between darkness and light.
- What is fair in men, passes away, but not so in art.
- Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.
- Fire destroys falsehood, that is sophistry, and restores truth, driving out darkness.
- Though human ingenuity may make various inventions which, by the help of various machines answering the same end, it will never devise any inventions more beautiful, nor more simple, nor more to the purpose than Nature does; because in her inventions nothing is wanting, and nothing is superfluous.
- Science is the observation of things possible, whether present or past; prescience is the knowledge of things which may come to pass, though but slowly.
- Wisdom is the daughter of experience.
- Any one who in discussion relies upon authority uses, not his understanding, but rather his memory.
- Men are in error when they lament the flight of time, accusing it of being too swift, and not perceiving that it is sufficient as it passes; but good memory, with which nature has endowed us, causes things long past to seem present.
- Learning acquired in youth arrests the evil of old age; and if you understand that old age has wisdom for its food, you will so conduct yourself in youth that your old age will not lack for nourishment.
- The acquisition of any knowledge is always of use to the intellect, because it may thus drive out useless things and retain the good. For nothing can be loved or hated unless it is first known.
- As a day well spent procures a happy sleep, so a life well employed procures a happy death.
- The water you touch in a river is the last of that which has passed, and the first of that which is coming. Thus it is with time present.
- The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.
- He who possesses most must be most afraid of loss.
- He who wishes to be rich in a day will be hanged in a year.
- We ought not to desire the impossible.
- Ask counsel of him who rules himself well.
- He who does not punish evil commands it to be done.
- You can have no dominion greater or less than that over yourself.
- He who thinks little, errs much.
- Reprove your friend in secret and praise him openly.
- Be not false about the past.
- Patience serves us against insults precisely as clothes do against the cold. For if you multiply your garments as the cold increases, that cold cannot hurt you; in the same way increase your patience under great offences, and they cannot hurt your feelings.
- Fear arises sooner than anything else.
- Just as courage imperils life, fear protects it.
- Threats alone are the weapons of the threatened man.
- He who walks straight rarely falls.
- It is ill to praise, and worse to reprimand in matters that you do not understand.
- Love shows itself more in adversity than in prosperity; as light does, which shines most where the place is darkest.
- Art is never finished, only abandoned.
Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro)
(70 - 19 B.C.) Classical Roman Poet; best known for The Aeneid
- Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit
[Perhaps it will be pleasing sometime to have remembered these things. - from The Aeneid]
- Possunt quia posse videntur.
[They can because they think they can. - from The Aeneid]
- Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.
[If I can not bend Heaven, I shall move Hell. - from The Aeneid]
- Experto credite.
[Trust one who has gone through it. - from The Aeneid]
- Equo ne credite, Teucri. Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentis.
[O Trojans, do not trust the horse. Be it what it may, I fear the Greeks even when they offer gifts. - from The Aeneid]
- Audentis Fortuna iuvat.
[Fortune favors the bold. - from The Aeneid]
- Latet anguis in herba.
[There's a snake hidden in the grass. - from the Eclogues]
- Omnia fert aetas, animum quoque.
[Time bears away all things, even our minds, from the Eclogues]
- Omnia vincit amor.
[Love conquers all. - from the Eclogues]
Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet)
(1694 - 1778) French Author, essayist, philosopher, social activist; well known for the book Candide
- Dans ce pays-ci il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres.
[In this country [England] it is thought well to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others. - from Candide, 1758)
- A witty saying proves nothing.
- If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated.
- Love truth but pardon error.
- To hold a pen is to be at war.
- All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.
- If there were no God, it would be necessary to invent him.
- Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.
- Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.
- I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
- When it's a question of money, everybody is of the same religion.
- Love is a canvas pattern furnished by Nature, and embroidered by imagination.
- It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.
- A multitude of laws in a country is like a great number of physicians, a sign of weakness and malady.
- Hamlet is a course and barbarous play. One might think the work is the product of a drunken savage's imagination.
- Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.
- Men use thought only as authority for their injustice, and employ speech only to conceal their thoughts.
- History is little else than a picture of human crimes and misfortunes.
- The first who was king was a fortunate soldier: Who serves his country well has no need of ancestors.
- There are truths which are not for all men, nor for all times.
- It is said that God is always on the side of the heaviest battalions.
- The best government is a benevolent tyranny tempered by an occasional assassination.
(1922 - 2007) Influential American Author
- High school is closer to the core of the American experience than anything else I can think of.
- Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be.
- I really wonder what gives us the right to wreck this poor planet of ours.
- I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.
- All persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental, and should not be construed.
- We would be a lot better off if the Government would take its money out of Science and put it into astrology and the reading of palms. I used to think that science would save us. I beg you to believe in the most rediculous of human superstitions: that humanity is at the center of the universe, the fulfiller or the frustrator of the grandest dreams of God Almighty. If you can believe that and make others believe it, human beings might stop treating each other like garbage. [from his commencement address at Bennington College, 1970, in Time]
- Article XXIX: Every adult who needs it shall be given meaningful work to do at a living wage. [from Timequake, 1997]
Peter De Vries
(1910 - 1993) American Editor, Novelist and satirist
- I write when I'm inspired, and I see to it that I'm inspired at nine o'clock every morning.